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Kew Gardens

  • Attractions
  • Kew
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Waterlilies House
    Waterlilies House
  2. Winter at Kew © A.McRobb
    Winter at Kew © A.McRobb
  3. Summer at Kew © A.McRobb
    Summer at Kew © A.McRobb
  4. Autumn at Kew
    Autumn at Kew

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

Exotic flowers, wild meadows and a walk among the treetops in leafy west London

There’s an impressive 250 years (and counting) of history in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, but they’re also paving the way for the future with not one, but two national bases for research into botanical studies. While you’re strolling through the Victorian Palm House or seeking out the luscious flora (including the giant, stinking Titan Arum in the Princess of Wales Conservatory), scientists are working away in offices and laboratories behind the scenes. 

Nowadays the Gardens stand at a whopping 300 acres, but they started out a little more humbly in the back yard of what was once the royal palace – favoured most by George III. There’s loads to see here, whether you like green stuff or not. The grand Victorian glasshouses remain a favourite with visitors, one of which (Temperate House) holds the record for the largest surviving Victorian glasshouse. Plus it’s just about to reopen (at the beginning of May 2018) following a five year makeover. And if you want to explore elsewhere? Why not take a trip to the Tree Top Walkway? At 18 metres high, this trek through the leaves offers fab views of the grounds.

Once you’ve come back to earth, stroll down to the Chinese Pagoda, which was built in 1762 and towers over the southern end of the Gardens.

Given the exceptional upkeep and wide variety of fauna, you’re sure to be inspired. And if the plants aren’t doing the trick, try seeking out the sculptures, which feature Henry Moore’s ‘Reclining Mother and Child’ in a stunning setting that changes with the light of each season. In fact, the art alone could take up your entire visit – see the Eduardo Paolozzi sculpture ‘A Maximis Ad Minima’ and visit the Marianne North Gallery and the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, all included in the main entry price.

Whenever you visit Kew Gardens, there’s something in bloom. The website has a dedicated ‘what to see this week’ section, so even in autumn or winter, you can be assured you won’t just see a lot of old twigs.

Written by
Laura Lee Davies


Royal Botanic Gardens
Tube: Kew Gardens/Kew Bridge rail
Opening hours:
Mar 27-Aug 29 Mon-Fri 10am-6.30pm, Sat, Sun and bank holidays 10am-7.30pm; Aug 30-Oct 29 daily 10am-6pm; Oct 30-Feb 10 2017 daily 10am-3.45pm; Feb 11-May 25 2017 daily 10am-5.30pm. Closed Dec 24 and 25. (Last entry 30 minutes before closing, some attractions close earlier, check on arrival.)
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What’s on

Pip & Pop at Kew Gardens

From May, Kew Gardens is inviting you to fully indulge your sweet tooth without upsetting your dentist. Australian artist Tanya Schultz, who works as Pip & Pop, will be presenting her debut London exhibition at the on-site Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art. Using candy-coloured materials including sugar, modelling clay and sweets, Schultz creates eye-popping immersive installations that explore themes such as consumption, wish fulfilment and abundance. ‘As the impact of climate change weighs heavily on our future, I hope to create a new artwork that is optimistic and allows us to imagine a better world,’ Schultz says. ‘It will be a visual feast of colour and sweetness, enticing and appealing, yet with serious ideas beneath it.’

Kew Orchid Festival

  • Festivals

The Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens is getting a Cameroonian makeover this February, courtesy of a mind-bending new orchid display. You’ll get it all: the varied landscapes, the native wildlife and more.  Visitors to the glasshouse will run into loads of ‘native animals’, carved out of plants and replicated across the horticultural displays. Giraffe, gorillas, lions and hippos. All your faves. Plus, look out for after hours events, live music, food and drink.  Entry to the display is included when purchasing a ticket to Kew Gardens.

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